Border states have been closely following President Donald Trump’s trade policies. Today in Burlington, Vermont Democratic Congressman Peter Welch discussed the Trump Administration’s recent implementation of tariffs on U.S. allies and the economic consequences that may await Vermont’s trade with Canada.
Vermont’s at-large representative was joined by industry, agricultural and business interests before he boarded a plane to return to Washington. Welch noted that Canada is Vermont’s largest trading partner with $1.2 billion goods exported to Canada annually, about 19,000 Vermont jobs directly related to cross-border trade, and the bilateral trade between the state and Canada totaling over $3 billion. “Canada is a valuable trading partner to us. We don’t have the issues with Canada that we have with China and in fact we have such favorable trade relationships with Canada that it’s an engine of job creation here in the state of Vermont and it is mutually beneficial to us in Canada.”
Vermont Chamber of Commerce President Betsy Bishop says the state’s success depends on exporting to world markets. “Vermont sells more goods to Canada than its next six largest trading partners. This whole discussion about tariffs is not helpful and it creates uncertainty which is not something businesses need to plan and invest for the future. We’re concerned that tariffs will increase prices, reduce net profits and have a ripple effect through our economy.”
Essex Junction-based FlexiSteel designs and manufactures mechanical seals for industrial pumps and sells its products in 50 countries worldwide. Vice President of Sales Alex Slauson says the board at his manufacturing company hopes to protect its employees, but costs have already increased 30 percent. “We’ve been affected prior to the actual tariffs going in place because the uncertainty that has been that has swirled around the entire discussions leading up to this has resulted in the mills, and in our world like the raw material of actual carbon steel, stainless steel, that type of material, the mills in the United States where we get our product from or from overseas have all you know reacted and are very very conscientious of the tariffs that were being discussed which has resulted in large price increases for us even leading up to it. And now we’re even seeing it going up even further.”
Welch says he is disappointed that House Speaker Paul Ryan and Republicans have failed to put pressure on the White House to end the tariffs on allies. "Here’s what bogus about this. The presidential authority unilaterally to impose tariffs is based upon a presidential determination that our national security requires it. Is Canada a threat to our national security? And the obvious answer is no. So many of us believe that the President is abusing the authority that has been given to a president under this statute.”
Congressman Welch says Congress has the ability to amend the law and further clarify the meaning of national security.